About Blood Donations

What Happens When I give Blood?

Donating blood is simple.

To see what happens view our blood donor experience video.

Please remember to have something to eat or drink before you donate.

Welcome and Preparation

Before donating blood, please eat regular meals, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids and avoid vigorous exercise or exertion. When you arrive we will ask you to read our welcome leaflet which explains the importance of blood safety. You will also be given around 500ml of water to drink just before you donate – this helps with your wellbeing during and after donation.

Health screening

One of our donor carers will then call you for a private health screening where we confirm your identity. It’s critical that we guarantee an accurate link between you, your Donor Health Check and your donation. A number of confidential questions will be asked in order for us to ensure that it is safe for you to donate and your donation is safe for a patient to receive.

For your wellbeing, we do a quick pin-prick test to check that you have enough haemoglobin (iron) in your blood before donating. An explanation will always be provided if you are not able to donate on the day.

Your donation

When you are comfortable on the chair or bed we will ask you to confirm your details and a blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm to maintain a small amount of pressure during your donation – this is not used to measure blood pressure. We will locate a suitable vein on your arm and clean the area with an antiseptic sponge before inserting the needle.

We advise our donors to do applied muscle tension exercises during donation – this is to maintain blood pressure and promote wellbeing during and after donation. Following needle insertion you should be comfortable during your donation. If you experience any discomfort or pain please alert a member of staff.

An agitator scale constantly weighs and measures your donation. It will stop automatically when your donation is complete. A full donation is 470ml and will usually take between 5 and 10 minutes.

After you donate

After donation, the needle is removed and a sterile dressing applied to your arm. We advise that you leave the pressure roll on for 30 minutes and the plaster dressing on for six hours. Please avoid using this arm to push on or carrying anything heavy.

You will be offered a selection of drinks and snacks. You should relax here for at least 15 minutes and have at least two drinks following donation.

At home

If you become unwell (other than a cold or cold-sore) within two weeks following your donation, or if you believe there is a reason your blood should not be transfused to a patient, please call our donor helpline on 0300 123 23 23.